Posts Tagged ‘Jeffrey Page’

How I Came to be Called an ‘Enemy of the American People’

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

By Jeffrey Page

The Fake President

The Fake President

In late 1963, I was working a go-nowhere job for an airport shipping firm when I got an important phone call from George Trow, the night managing editor of the New York Post, telling me that the copyboy’s position I’d applied for was available.

Was I still interested, he inquired.

“When should I report,” I asked. Easy answer, my having been raised in a newspaper-reading family and believing that newspaper reporters and editors were important people.

Thus, a career began in those hazy distant days.

And oh yes, Mr. Trow said as he cleared his throat, the shift began at 1 a.m., and the pay was $48 a week. I was getting $65 at the airport. I took the job at the Post. One a.m.? $48? My father was aghast.

This was two months after the JFK assassination. The work at the Post was menial: I re-filled paste pots, I took coffee and sandwich orders from the night staff, I kept the reporters well-supplied with copy paper for their stories and the copy editors well-supplied with sharp pencils to edit stories and write headlines. I ran galley proofs and page proofs back and forth between the composing room and the copy desk.

Menial yes, but, it turned out, the start of a 42-year adventure. I worked for several dailies. At each of them we delivered to readers the information they needed, the scores of the sports events they had bet on, the features they enjoyed, some columnists they admired and others they loathed.

In my newspaper decades I covered some presidential campaigns. I wrote a great deal about transportation. Late in career, I got a general column. I interviewed the great Cesar Chavez. I went to Normandy for the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

Once, I found myself sitting across from Ray Charles who was in town to publicize a singing jingle promoting a new game in the New Jersey Lottery. Charles looked miserable and I had no idea what to ask this genius now reduced to singing commercials late in his career. I filed four dull paragraphs; it was enough.

There were thousands of other stories about politics, about people with interesting careers, about crime. I even found the abandoned creamery in the Catskills where Patricia Hearst spent a year in hiding.

Nowadays the voice in the Oval Office refers to what he has determined to be “Fake News,” which, if I understand it, means any news our Fake President doesn’t care for. An example: He really doesn’t like to be reminded that he drew nearly 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton in last year’s election.

In addition to slandering the press as a purveyor of “fake news,” Trump maligns the entire news industry by labeling the press “enemies of the American people,” which is a lie.

By attacking American news gathering this way Trump forgets where he gets the right to speak his own fake mind in any newspaper he might someday choose to publish. He seems to forget a lot, such as the fact that the press is one of only two occupations specifically protected in the Bill of Rights: Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, it says in the First Amendment. (The clergy has such protection as well.)

The need for a vibrant First Amendment has become more and more apparent in the months since Trump took office. Perhaps more than ever it has become clear that our democracy’s survival depends on a free and unfettered press.

A lot of people have fought to defend the United States Constitution. The Fake President was not one of them.

Would Trump dismiss Jefferson as a fake revolutionary? After all, it was Jefferson who uttered the familiar line that if forced to choose between government without newspapers or newspapers without a government he would prefer the latter.

Donald’s New Pal, Rodrigo Duterte

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

By Jeffrey Page

Rodrigo Duterte ... got an invite from the Donald

Rodrigo Duterte … got an invite from the Donald

While we’re waiting for Robert Mueller to reveal what many suspect, let’s review an earlier bizarre episode at the Trump White House.

Americans now find their president issuing an invitation to Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, to pay a visit to the White House, a place dubbed long ago by Theodore Roosevelt as the “People’s House.” It’s unclear what T.R would call it nowadays.

The Duterte invitation went out as the result of “a very friendly conversation” between the two presidents, the White House said. Very nice, but here’s why the invitation should be withdrawn at once.

On one hand Trump is still hot to build his damned wall along the Rio Grande as a means of keeping some people out.

On the other hand, Trump, doing whatever he can to get certain people in, would open the White House doors to Duterte so the two leaders could engage in some manly talk. The problem is that Duterte is a self-described admirer of Hitler and has likened the Jews of Europe in the 1930s with the drug dealers and users that he loathes. He puts the number of each group at 3 million. In the case of the Jews that’s about half the usual estimate.

If Trump is hot to meet with Duterte, I wish the two of them a good time.

But not in the White House, which is not Trump’s to sully since it doesn’t belong to him, but to you and me and 300 million other Americans.

When running for president last year, Duterte wished to display his loathing of drug users and dealers and promised to use some of the same tactics against them that Hitler used against the Jews of Europe.

“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now there are 3 million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte said. He meant the dealers and junkies, not the Jews. Or so I think.

Still, Jews were aghast at this comparison. So was anyone else with a streak of decency.

Another reason for double-locking the doors of the White House when Duterte comes to call is his view of law and order, and his choice of words to describe the people he dislikes, including America’s ex-president.

When he took office, Duterte called on his army and police to help out in the war on drugs. The use of summary executions was fine, he said. “Do your duty,” Duterte said, “and in the process you kill 1,000 persons, I will protect you.” Estimates of the number of people put to death by Duterte and his men vary. Some have been as high as 9,000.

Perhaps one of the reasons Duterte could issue such instructions is because he had participated in them himself.

When he was mayor of the sprawling city of Davao he responded to a question by declaring: “Me? They’re saying I’m part of a death squad? True. That’s true.”

A visit to the White House, the place where American presidents live? Not for Duterte who, when hearing what sounded like criticism of his police operations, responded by calling President Obama “a son of a whore” and told him to go to hell.

And now the obvious question for Trump.

How dare you allow this man into the Executive Mansion?

Sometimes You Have to Say, ‘I’m Sorry’

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

By Jeffrey Page

Trump ... tweeting.

Trump … tweeting.

Donald Trump and his coterie believe that election is tantamount to gaining unquestioned authority in matters of insult, truth and apology.

You may believe that begging someone’s pardon after intended or unintended insult might make the world a little more civil, maybe even a little safer, but Donald Trump seems to hold no such belief.

“If I win,” he informed Hillary Clinton during the campaign, “I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your [missing email] situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception.” This as Trump’s followers gleefully roared “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

So far, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has appointed no special prosecutor, which could indicate that Clinton is not quite as wicked as Trump would have you believe.

So with no special prosecutor in sight, can Trump stand up and say “I went a little too far; I apologize?”

He cannot.

He’s apparently unaware that in America when you charge someone with a crime you’re supposed to have evidence.

Someone else operating from the Trump Handbook of Practical Politics is Jeff Sessions, who stepped into a Ringling Bros. bucket when he declared recently that the state of Hawaii is little more than a banana republic – seven insignificant islands floating out there on the briny.

Apologize? Sessions?

Reacting to an unfavorable ruling by District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu, Sessions told an interviewer: “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be his statutory and Constitutional power.” Such judicial orders are precisely what make America unique, far different from a lot of countries.

At issue before Watson was Trump’s signing an executive order barring travelers from Muslim dominant countries from entering the United States – the so-called travel ban. Watson didn’t think it passed Constitutional muster.

Sessions was “amazed?”

If so, Americans must be “amazed” to learn that their attorney general is “amazed” at what the judges of a great nation do. That is, they interpret the law.

Sessions attributed the hubbub over his island jest to Americans having a lousy sense of humor. Get it? He was just kidding around with those 1.5 million unappreciative Hawaiians, not to mention the rest of us.

Incidentally, yes Watson was appointed by President Obama.

And yes, the Senate vote to confirm him was 94-0.

And yes, one of those yea votes was cast by Jeff Sessions, a senator at the time.

Here’s a handy guide to a few older incidents that beg for apology but have received no such thing.

— “I watched in Jersey City New Jersey where thousands and thousands of people [Muslims] were cheering as that building [the World Trade Center] was coming down,” Trump said about 9/11. Apparently he was the only person to witness such cheering.

— Trump said he doubted he could get a fair trial in a case to be heard by Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel since Trump was calling for a wall to prevent Mexicans from crossing the border to reach the U.S. and Curiel had that Mexican sounding surname. Therefore, Trump’s reasoning went, he could not expect a fair shake from Curiel, except that Curiel is not Mexican but a U.S. citizen born in East Chicago, Indiana, the son of U.S. citizens.

— Trump charged outrageously that President Obama’s people tapped some of Trump’s phones during the campaign for Hillary Clinton’s benefit.

The evidence?

None.

Even Trump Should be Appalled at This

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

By Jeffrey Page

Sean Spicer .. why is he still working?

Sean Spicer 

“Even Hitler didn’t sink to using chemical weapons.”

The words of the White House, as uttered by Sean Spicer, the usually snarly press secretary to President Trump, as he discussed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of sarin gas in his own people a few days earlier. The gas caused the horrible deaths of almost 90 people, including many children.

“Even Hitler …,” Spicer said.

That moronically misplaced emphasis – even – ought to have given pause to the president. After all, there was Spicer on the second day of Passover hinting that Hitler just might have gotten a bum rap all these years since 1945. Even Hitler. Never mind that he was a man with 6 million warrants out for his arrest. In many cases he had Jews and others murdered by poison gas.

Sean Spicer is 45 years old. It’s reasonable to expect someone of his age would have a better handle one of the major, man-made catastrophes of the 20th century, the Holocaust, and all the misery and horror it inflicted on 6 million Jews, Catholics, Romanis, communists and trade unionists.

You’d also like to believe that. while Spicer is entitled to his own opinion, he’s not entitled to his own facts. (Thank you, Pat Moynihan.) If a kindly nod to Adolf is all right for Spicer, you have to wonder about the president, the man for whom Spicer speaks. Did he carefully vet Spicer for the position of press secretary.

No? Why not? And what’s the effective day of his dismissal?

Yes? In that case, the vetting of the man who speaks for the president of the United States of America was insufficient. And again, what’s his last day on the job?

And the final questions. Didn’t Spicer, at age 45, know that the thing called the Holocaust actually occurred? Or is he a card-carrying Holocaust denier? And though it sounds like Holocaust denial, could President Trump confirm this?

Later in the day, Spicer apologized for making himself sound like an idiot for his remarkable take on recent European history.

Move On responded with a call for his dismissal or resignation.

 

The Majority Gets Whipped by Its Own

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

By Jeffrey Page

Rep. Steve Scalise

Rep. Steve Scalise

I really have to stop writing about politics and the people who play the game. The stink of it has become overwhelming and I find my gag reflex being tested day after day.

The latest issue is the existence of a man named Steve Scalise, who is the Republican majority whip in the House of Representatives. That makes him the third most powerful member of the House, an important man.

I venture to say that before the end of 2014, no one outside Louisiana ever heard of Steve Scalise. In fact, a check of The New York Times shows that the paper has mentioned Scalise in 136 stories. But note that 32 of those stories have been published in the last 10 days or so.

What shoved Scalise into the news was the revelation that 12 years ago he was the guest speaker before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, a group that sounds benign enough, but whose leader at the time was David Duke, the former Grand Whatsis of the Ku Klux Klan.

In 2002, Scalise was a member of the Louisiana Assembly and addressed EURO on a tax matter. The Associated Press recently reported that Duke did not attend the meeting but addressed it by phone.

I believe Steve Scalise has the unalienable right to speak to any organization he chooses though I’d be much more comfortable if he were a little more discriminating.

Now it gets complicated.

After word of Scalise’s EURO talk was reported recently, he did what he probably thought was the most honorable – not to mention pragmatic – thing he could. He fessed up, kind of.

“One of the many groups that I spoke to regarding this critical [tax] legislation was a group whose views I wholeheartedly condemn,” AP reported him saying. “It was a mistake I regret and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold.”

This of course raises the question: If Scalise is such a tolerant, unbiased man of principle, why did it take him 12 years and the publication of an unflattering story to get him to read us his credentials as a man who hates racial intolerance.

Confessing is one thing. Confessing 12 years after the fact is an attempt to rewrite history and show the nation that Scalise is just a great, open-minded guy you’d be happy to have a beer with.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have leapt to his defense. Boehner; Gingrich (does this man ever go away?); Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader of the house; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal et al. offer a similar theme. Scalise? Nice fellow, not a racist cell in him, probably wound up at the EURO meeting totally unaware of its views.

Unaware that you’re going to talk before a racist organization? There’s a great Yiddish response to such bizarre statements: Pish nisht af mein fus, un dertzail mir az si regant, which translates to: Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

But once such stories start it’s hard to end them. Here’s another. Scalise has been questioned about a New Orleans reporter’s assertion that 20 years ago, when she was new to reporting, Scalise described himself as “David Duke without the baggage.”

At a recent news conference, Scalise was asked if he made that Duke statement. His answer as reported by the Times: “I reject bigotry of all forms and I think when you see the people that know me best, here and especially back home, people that I’ve been on opposite ends politically with, who know the truth and know my heart, they are the ones who speak the best.”

That wasn’t an answer. It wasn’t even a non-denial denial. It was just self-defensive fluff. Later, Scalise denied claiming to be the squeaky clean version of David Duke. And the reporter has stuck with her recollection of 20 years past. The truth will out soon enough; it almost always does.

E.E. Cummings had it right: “A politician is an arse upon which everyone has sat except a man.”

Death Penalty Dilemma Again

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

I carry with me a special loathing for the monsters in our midst who take out their frustration and rage by beating children, or killing them.

Recently I recalled several such stories I wrote in my years at The Record in Bergen County. Such as the young pregnant woman who felt funny at her high school prom, went to the ladies room, delivered a baby, strangled her, ate a salad and went back to the dance. Note: There is no exaggeration in that description. And such as the man who beat his son to death because the little boy pressed the wrong buttons on Dad’s TV remote.

What brought this recollection in these days leading to Christmas, was a story in the Times Herald-Record that demonstrated yet again what some people are capable of doing to children. The story centered on a boy named Mason Decosmo, or to be precise, the late Mason Decosmo.

Mason was about 2 years old. He was murdered, basically beaten to death.

The TH-R story was about testimony offered by the Ulster County medical examiner on the condition of Mason’s body. The story was accompanied by a head-and-shoulders picture of Mason. That photo shows a sweet little boy with reddish hair and a toothy smile. He looks like a happy kid though I noticed he had bags under his eyes, something you don’t expect to see in a toddler. There’s no mistaking him for anything but a child, yet those bags, and a slight crease in his cheek, give him the momentary look of a little old man.

Two years old. Walking around, in all likelihood. Understanding some words and maybe repeating some to his mother. Toilet trained? Maybe, maybe not. Was he in the early stages of the Terrible Twos? Did he love to watch TV? What was his favorite toy? His favorite storybook? We don’t know.

What we do know is that there’s someone in this world who had an unquenchable hatred for this little boy. For, as reported by the Times Herald-Record, this is what the medical examiner, Dennis Chute, found when he examined Mason’s body:

Mason was hit so hard that he suffered liver damage. Mason’s pancreas was torn into two pieces. Mason had internal bleeding. Mason had blood on the brain. Mason had a broken rib. Mason had a damaged lip. Mason had 60 bruises. Mason had torn skin on his anus. Mason, two years old, had bruises on his penis. Mason had bruises on his scrotum.

On trial is Kaitlin Wolfert, Mason’s mother, charged with negligence and abuse. She said she was unaware of how badly her son had been hurt and therefore didn’t take him to the hospital. Later, there will be a separate trial for Kenneth Stahli – Wolfert’s boyfriend – who is charged with murder.

When the killer, whoever he or she is, finally is found, my shaky opposition to capital punishment will again be tested. I grew up opposing it and was happy when it was outlawed in New York. After all, how certain can we be of a capital defendant’s guilt? What if we execute someone who’s innocent? These are absolutely legitimate questions, and I wish I had rational answers.

In the meantime, what do we do with the beast who murders a little boy like Mason Decosmo? Should he or she be allowed to live in our society? If capital punishment is cruel and inhumane, what then do we do with the people who kill little kids like Mason?

For now, let’s remember this little boy. May Mason and his suffering never be forgotten.

The Deaths of Strangers

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

Lately, I’m again thinking about the wretched deaths of two people I never met.

No one knew the true identity of the homeless woman who keeled over dead on a bench in Grand Central Terminal in 1986. But a group of people decided that she would not be buried as an anonymous number in the potter’s field and they made a funeral for her.

In the other case, in 2004, a baby – almost certainly murdered – had no name until a priest gave him one as his little body was placed in the ground. It was a funeral witnessed only by a photographer, a reporter, a cemetery worker and an undertaker who contributed an inexpensive coffin and some flowers.

In writing about these victims several times over the years, I reject the advice of an old city editor who advised me when I was a cub in Jersey City never to get emotionally involved with the people in my stories. But sometimes you just can’t let it go and so, later in a long career, I understood that the woman and the little boy deserved to be remembered. I would remember them. I told the priest I would kick in some money for the impromptu funeral if it was necessary. It wasn’t; no one charged a fee.

I expect I’ll spend the rest of my days occasionally giving a little ink to these two strangers, and writing about the gentle humanity in the homeless woman’s case – some people called her Mama, some called her Mary – and the outrage inflicted on the baby, whom the priest named John on the day of the funeral. Additionally, maybe at some time to come someone will read about them and realize a relationship to the woman. Maybe the person who tossed John into winter-cold water will read about him and make an appointment to meet with the prosecutor.

I was a reporter for a long time and generally followed that long-ago city editor’s words. I created a shield around myself that allowed me to see but not feel. But there are those moments when I allow the shield to slip such as in the cases of Mama and John.

Mama snoozed on a bench at Grand Central Terminal. The police had told her to move on, but it was cold and soon, she was back. She closed her eyes and fell asleep. Soon, a cop approached. She was dead. It was Christmas.

She was about 55. In addition to Mama and Mary, some of the homeless who took shelter at Grand Central called her Granny. She spoke with a European accent. She didn’t bother anyone, though she was shameless when she needed a cigarette. She’d ask anyone – commuters, the police, other homeless people – to bum a smoke.

She would have gone to the potter’s field on Hart Island had it not been for a woman from the Bronx who put up some money for a funeral. All at once, Mama had some dignity. She got a grave at Maple Grove Cemetery in Queens, a casket, a kaddish service at Temple Emanu-El in case she was Jewish, a priest’s eulogy in case she was Catholic. The priest quoted a Quaker line (“I expect to pass through this world but once…”), and a vigil was held for her at Grand Central in case she was none of the above. The cash was for a gravestone at discount.

There was a small gathering at her burial, and people still return every Christmas season to pay respects to the woman with no name.

John was discovered by a man walking along a stretch of the Raritan Bay shoreline called Ideal Beach. In the far distance you can see the Empire State Building and the Parachute Jump at Coney Island.

The man stopped, leaned down and found himself staring at a naked dead baby. The medical examiner determined that the baby’s fractured skull could have been caused by a blow to the head or, somehow less horrific, by smashing into something in the water. The M.E. also noted that the extent of decomposition probably meant the baby had been in the water for about a week.

He also held out the possibility that the baby had been alive when tossed into the bay.

The advice from a newsroom veteran served me well, but sometimes rules and common sense must be tossed.

Birth Control and Pure Ignorance

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

Jerk: A person regarded as disagreeable or contemptible.

The requirements for election to the House of Representatives aren’t complicated. You have to be 25 or older, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and reside in the state you wish to represent.

I have a proposal to amend the Constitution. It would read as follows: “No person who is a jerk is allowed to serve in the House. Nor as senator. Nor as a governor. And certainly not as president. The United States recognizes that all people are created equal, but just as we wouldn’t allow a popular cocker spaniel to assume public office, nor would we allow a jerk to hold public office.”

The event that prompted my outburst was a pitch that came in the mail from Planned Parenthood asking for money and reminding recipients of some of the more outrageous comments by four men with bizarre ideas about what degree of lunacy the American people will accept from their elected representatives.

We have seen these quotations before, but there they were again, clumped in a tidy one-page display that left me breathless.

You remember this stuff of course.

— Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., declared at a hearing that women’s voices were “not appropriate or qualified” to participate in discussion of birth control matters. This is truly remarkable because if 51 percent of the population is not qualified to discuss birth control, new and dangerous paths are automatically opened. Remember when the majority were not allowed to vote at all in South Africa? What else might Issa see as unfit for the input of more than half the population? He didn’t say. But if women shouldn’t be at the table for talk on abortion and other forms of birth control because only they can get pregnant, you have to wonder if Issa would bar the 49 percent from the table when the subject is prostate cancer or low testosterone levels or male breast cancer or male osteoporosis. Issa didn’t say.

— In the wrangle over whether employers who offer medical coverage should be required to make birth control part of the benefits package, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas said, “[Refusal to include birth control in workplace health coverage] is not denying women’s rights. If a woman then wants birth control, go work somewhere else.” This is a puerile response unworthy of half the legislative branch of our government. By suggesting that women quit their jobs – especially in the economy’s current state – and go marching out to an array of nonexistent jobs, Brownback lets everyone know the truth: He doesn’t give a hoot in hell about the real “facts of life.”

— Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and sometime candidate for president, shocked the nation with this moronic, sexist, and almost obscene observation: “ … women are helpless without Uncle [Sam] coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido … without the help of government.” Newsflash, governor: When a woman gets pregnant, there’s usually more than one libido involved.

— Finally there was Todd Akin, the genius from Missouri, who informed the nation about aspects of human reproduction that no one knew existed. To the question of the importance of making abortion available to women who get pregnant during rape, Akin said: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” “That whole thing?” What is this man talking about?

Election Day is just 40 days away. Reject jerks seeking public office.

Dreaming an American Nightmare

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

obama tan suit

President Obama … no strategy on ISIS?

I dreamed an American nightmare.

I dreamed President Obama conducted a news conference and when asked about additional air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria he said, “We don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with the ISIS threat.

Then I realized I hadn’t been asleep at all, and that the president’s verbal shoulder-shrug was the real thing – sign language that translated to: We’ll have a strategy when we have a strategy. Here we are, 13 years after 9/11 and we kinda, sorta know what to do.

This is unacceptable. Not having a strategy against an implacable enemy doesn’t sound quite in the spirit of keeping 300 million people safe.

White House spokesmen can spin it all day long – and spin it they did after President Obama’s news conference – but in the end the fact remains that the President of the United States of America had just finished letting the world know, and letting ISIS know, that he hadn’t yet come up with a strategy for dealing with ISIS.

This is pathetic, not to mention dangerous, because you and I both know the reverse is true – that ISIS has a strategy for dealing with the United States. So oughtn’t President Obama have a plan that goes beyond “Don’t know; see me in a week?”

Asking people to wait for such a plan is asking too much because ISIS is no ordinary foe. It has been conducting a homicidal war against just about everyone in the Middle East. It has murdered two American journalists and several prisoners of war in a manner so unspeakable that ISIS has erased its name from the roster of the members of civilization.

ISIS has weapons and experienced soldiers and the will to use both. It has been described as “the real deal” when it comes to who represents the greatest danger to the Middle East, to Europe, and to the United States. It poses a direct threat to the U.S. because, as some intelligence officials believe, some of ISIS’s more ardent adherents are here in America right now because they live here. ISIS’s description as “an imminent threat” to the United States was not from someone with a loose mouth and no facts, but by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. And Hegel didn’t say this one hour ago, which might have given Obama an out for not yet having a strategy. Hagel said it in July. And the ISIS threat has been known far longer than that.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry had a piece in The Times over the weekend in which he acknowledged that America can’t deal with ISIS alone. It needs partners. “With a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations, the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries,” Kerry said.

Sounds great, but I wouldn’t want to be the diplomat sent by Washington to, say, Berlin to ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel for troops and cash on behalf of an American president who has no strategy.

Someone at the White House must remind President Obama of the danger the nation faces. He also needs to be told that he leaves himself open to ridicule when he asks allies for help but has no plan.

On Wednesday, President Obama said the United States would not be intimidated by ISIS. Very tough, very bold. But it’s not a strategy.

 

Can the Public Get to the Public Hearing?

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

By Jeffrey Page 

The agency charged with deciding where one or two casinos can be placed in the mid-Hudson is conducting a hearing to find out what the public thinks.

I’m sorry, that was a joke. A look at some of its actions and decisions suggests that the clumsily named New York State Gaming Commission Facility Location Board doesn’t give a hoot in hell about what the public thinks of allowing casinos and their attendant delights – traffic jams, prostitution, street crime, loan sharking, etc. – into our once calm villages and towns.

How could I be so cynical? Here’s how.

The hearing, which is scheduled for Sept. 23, will run an absurd 12 hours. Did you ever have to pay close attention to an important matter for 12 hours like the five members of the location board will have to do? Nor have I.

Why just one grindingly long session? The Warwick Advertiser reported that Lee Park, the location board’s PR flack, said it would be more efficient this way, and that one long hearing would be best for the five members of the location board – never mind what would be best for the public. The Advertiser quoted Park this way: “These guys all have full-time jobs. It will be a long day.”

That response might suggest to people just in from Planet Neptune that the five location board members are a bunch of working stiffs who punch a clock every morning and afternoon. But that’s not the case at all.

Here are the five men who’ll be tailoring the future of the mid-Hudson, and therefore will have much to say about your future:

  • The chairman of the location board is Kevin Law, the CEO and president of the Long Island Association, an economic development firm based in Melville.
  • Then there’s Stuart Rabinowitz, the president of Hofstra University – based in Hempstead. He’s also a member of the Long Island Association.
  •  Next there’s Bill Thompson, the former New York City comptroller and now the managing director of the investment banking firm of Siebert, Brandford, Shank, which is based in New York City.
  • Fourth is Dennis Glazer, retired partner of the Davis Polk and Wardwell law firm, which is in New York City.
  • And fifth is Paul Francis, the managing partner of the Cedar Street Group, a venture capital firm located in Larchmont.

Park should rest assured that “these guys,” as he described them, would not be docked a day’s pay if they had to take an extra day or two to conduct the hearing in a fair, sensible manner.

Casinos in the mid-Hudson will change life here forever. So isn’t it odd – or, for that matter, outrageous – that not one member of the location board is a known Orange, Sullivan, or Ulster quantity?

Then there’s the question of where the hearing is to be held. Will it be in Goshen, the Orange County seat? No. How about Monticello, the Sullivan seat? No. Maybe Kingston, the Ulster seat? No.

It is to be staged in Poughkeepsie, across the Hudson in Dutchess County, a city not included on the list of possible casino sites.

Here’s Park’s response to The Warwick Advertiser’s question about the odd placement of the hearing: The location board decided against having the hearing in any of the eligible counties in order to “not show favoritism and to be completely objective.”

Completely objective? When not even one of the three counties is represented on the board?

Where are the mid-Hudson representatives? They rolled snake eyes and are out of it.

If you think the pols need to hear your position on casinos in general or the set-up of the location board in particular, you can reach State Sen. John Bonacic at 344-3311 in Middletown and Sen. Bill Larkin in New Windsor at 567-1270.